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Medicare Part D in Its Ninth Year: The 2014 Marketplace and Key Trends, 2006-2014

This report presents findings from an analysis of the Medicare Part D marketplace in 2014 and changes in features of the drug benefit offered by Part D plans since 2006. It examines the latest information and trends related to Part D enrollment and plan availability, premiums, benefit design and cost sharing, pharmacy networks, the Low-Income Subsidy Program, and plan performance ratings.

Report, Briefing Examine How Seniors Choose Among Their Medicare Plan Options

Report & Briefing Examine How Seniors Choose Among Their Medicare Plan Options Seniors appreciate having a wide range of Medicare private plan choices available to them but often feel unqualified to choose among them, a new Kaiser Family Foundation report concludes. Based on discussions with seniors in four cities around…

How are Seniors Choosing and Changing Health Insurance Plans?

This report summarizes first-hand accounts of seniors’ Medicare private plan decision making strategies, based on focus groups conducted in four cities. Seniors found the initial plan selection process overwhelming due to the volume of information they received and their inability to organize it. Few used the government’s online comparison tool, and those that did cite several shortcomings. Many relied on advice from sources they trust, including insurance agents, plan representatives, friends, family members, doctor’s offices and pharmacists. After they enroll in a plan, many seniors did not revisit their initial decision or review plan options without the strong provocation of a substantial increase in cost, change in coverage, or shift in personal health care needs. Moreover, they feared that a change in plans may disrupt their care, or lead to an unforeseen increase in out-of-pocket costs, and require them to learn new rules and requirements. They are doubtful they would end up in a plan that is appreciatively different or better for them. Overall, seniors preferred to have numerous choices in plans but would like personalized help and advice from experts to ease the process.

Medicare Advantage 2014 Spotlight: Enrollment Market Update

This Data Spotlight provides an overview of Medicare Advantage enrollment patterns in March 2014, and examines variations by plan type, state, and firm. It also analyzes trends in premiums paid by beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans and describes the changes in limits on out-of-pocket expenses and prescription drug coverage in the Part D “donut hole” provided by the plans in 2014.

Raising Medicare Premiums for Higher-Income Beneficiaries: Assessing the Implications

As policymakers consider ways to slow the growth in Medicare spending as part of broader efforts to reduce the federal debt or offset the cost of other spending priorities, some have proposed to increase beneficiary contributions through higher Medicare premiums. This issue brief explains provisions of current law that impose income-related premiums under Medicare Part B and Part D, describes recent proposals to modify these requirements, and analyzes the potential implications for the Medicare population.

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans: The Marketplace in 2013 and Key Trends, 2006-2013

This report presents findings from an analysis of the Medicare Part D marketplace in 2013 and changes in drug coverage and costs since 2006. It presents key findings related to Medicare drug plan availability, enrollment, premiums, low-income subsidies, the coverage gap, benefit design, cost sharing, formularies, and utilization management, based on data from CMS for all plans participating in Part D. The analysis was conducted jointly by researchers at Georgetown University, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Fact Sheet

This fact sheet includes the latest information and data about the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Benefit, including current plan information, the standard benefit parameters, updates on additional low-income assistance, and the latest available enrollment data.

Medicare Part D: A First Look at Plan Offerings in 2014

The 2014 Part D Data Spotlight analyzes information about the Medicare Part D stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) options available to beneficiaries in 2014. The analysis shows that Medicare beneficiaries on average will have a choice of 35 stand-alone prescription drug plans in 2014, and somewhat more “benchmark” plans available to Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) beneficiaries nationwide. The weighted average premium will increase by 5 percent between 2013 and 2014 if enrollees remain in the same plans next year. The analysis also finds more plans are using preferred pharmacy networks and adopting a growing number of cost-sharing formulary tiers for different drugs.

To Switch or Not to Switch: Are Medicare Beneficiaries Switching Drug Plans To Save Money?

This analysis finds that relatively few Medicare beneficiaries have switched Part D prescription drug plans voluntarily during the annual open enrollment period — even though those who do switch often lower their out-of-pocket costs as a result of changing plans. The vast majority (87% on average between 2006 and 2010) stayed in the same Part D plan, even though the plans can change premiums, deductibles, cost-sharing amounts, and their list of covered drugs each year. Higher rates of plan switching were observed in PDPs that increased premiums, increased deductibles, or dropped coverage of brand-name drugs in the coverage gap.